The IPL is a long tournament, and it’s useful for teams to look at breaking up their 14 league matches into smaller blocks. We would have liked to begin the three-match road trip we’re currently on with a win against Chennai, but that didn’t happen.
You could see that the intent and momentum were there in the match against the Super Kings, but a couple of expensive overs cost us the game. In the third over Praveen Kumar was taken for 24 runs by Murali Vijay, who I thought batted really well. Again the penultimate over was costly and we failed to push the game into the final over.
The way Chennai has been playing this season, we would have backed ourselves if we had 10 runs or so to defend in the final over. With a new batsman at the crease and an experienced bowler like Jacques Kallis operating, anything could have happened. We had the bowling to defend 160, but on the day didn’t quite execute perfectly.
We’ve got a strong bench and this is going to become important as we reach the halfway mark of the tournament. With Kevin Pietersen and Cameron White settling in, and Ross Taylor having just arrived, we have plenty of choice in international players, and each one is a quality player. Getting the combination right will be critical, and we’ll have to rotate players depending on the conditions.
All credit to Chennai, they played a good game, but it’s time for us to move on and look at the next game.
We play the Kings XI Punjab at their home ground in what has become a must-win game for us. Lots of teams are bunched together and the race for the last four is a tight one. Even at this stage in the tournament, with almost 30 matches played, you can’t say with any certainty who will make the cut, and this is the time for us to press on.
As the tournament goes into the business end, we need to string together sequences of victories, as we did earlier in the tournament. If you can win two or three games on the trot it builds momentum.
That doesn’t just help in putting critical points on the table, it also makes it much easier for the team to be strong when it comes to crucial matches.